Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bathmatwatch: Day 22 (update)

It is the sight that Britain dreaded, like the top blown off another double-decker bus, or a newspaper vendor’s board proclaiming the recommissioning of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps.

Today was another bright morning, the sun low in the sky. I thought that I could see the bath mat, then as I got closer a sense of panic set in. It simply wasn't there. I looked further down the street – had I miscounted the number of houses? No, this was the place that I had stood for 21 days and made my record. All that I could see was the ghostly outline on the damp pavement, a reminder of what was.

Dispassionately, professionally, I took today’s photograph. As I checked it on the screen, I briefly wondered whether yesterday’s photo would become like the fateful image of Diana in the revolving door at the Ritz, or JFK waving to the crowd in Dallas. A last picture of innocence, forever subsumed by the future-narrowing hindsight of retrospective viewers.

Then I turned around...

Joy rose in my heart once more. The bath mat appears to be heading south for the winter. But it has left the comparative safety of the pavement, where street sweepers may think that it is some kind of distant doormat, and is now playing a deadly game of chicken. Its future is uncertain, but today we should simply give thanks that it is still with us.

The bath mat may be in the gutter, but it is looking at the stars.